Moderate Drinking Self-Help Website

Articles is a US-based online program run by Dr. Reid Hester with funding from theNational Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Further information about Dr. Hester was not available on this website, but it is understood that he is a researcher and clinical psychologist who has worked extensively in the field of alcohol dependency and abuse.


Assistance for Moderate Drinking Problems

The website is designed for individuals who are concerned about their drinking and are seeking assistance in a way that they can self manage. It is designed for people who are not considered alcohol dependent, but rather for those who have a mild to moderate drinking problem. The site comprises of a number of areas, including a members only section. The publicly accessible sections on the site have some general information regarding the program, drinking issues and a self-assessment.

Moderate Drinking Fees

The basic design of the website is for users to register and pay a fee of $59 USD for 1 year or $19.95 USD per month. This will then grant access to the program details, tools, surveys and other information. It also will be the space where users can set goals, review their progress and manage feedback they give and receive from the site. Regular updates are also given to members on their progress and recommendations for other ways to manage their drinking.

Drinking Assessment

The website has a pre-registration assessment for individuals to complete regarding their drinking behavior. Based on the answers a user gives, the assessment will give a rating for follow up and in most (if not all) cases, a recommendation to sign up to the site. This evaluation questionnaire consists of 24 questions relating to general alcohol consumption, for example:

Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?

Do you drink before noon often?

Self Help Commitment Needed

Because the site is designed as a self-help tool, there is a basic level of control and commitment that the user has to have for it to succeed. The initial assessment requires the individual to have a high level of honesty when responding as no external assessment is conducted. This could cause some bias with what tools, steps and feedback is given. Users can also decide what level of change they believe is suitable to their situation, for example, if they want to abstain or just reduce alcohol consumption.

G. Alan Marlatt – Pioneering Addiction Researcher


A pioneer in the field of addictive behaviors, respected researcher and distinguished scientist, G. Alan Marlatt, sadly passed away on March 14 2010. Marlatt was a professor and the director of Addictive Behaviors Research Centre at the University of Washington for many years. He was a key researcher in understanding the problems around addiction and developed comprehensive testing to help prevent relapse.


Rehabilitation Treatment Development

Alan Marlatt was considered a key individual in the development of therapeutic treatments, harm reduction, brief interventions, and relapse prevention. He often spoke frankly but with compassion about addiction and understood that zero-tolerance treatments rarely worked. He was an advocate of multi-approach treatments – from harm reduction to mentoring – to reach those in and not in treatment.

Recovering from Addiction

Marlatt’s key research, however, was into what he called the abstinence-violation effect or AVE. This essentially is the effect whereby an individual, say someone with an alcohol dependency, believes they have failed if they have one drink. A slip up that confirms their belief that they are a failure and are not strong enough to quit, the self-fulfilling prophecy that they cannot do it. Marlatt encouraged therapists to support recovering addicts to continue with treatment, that one mistake does not ruin the work done. A technique he advocated he dubbed urge surfing which he taught to therapists and patients alike. An urge to drink escalates and falls like a wave, and it can be ridden. Allow the urge to come and go which in time helps reduce the cravings and weakens the brain pathways.

Writing more than 300 articles and contributing to numerous publications, forums and workshops on addiction treatment, Alan Marlatt will be sadly missed, and it is hoped his work will continue to contribute to treatment research.

BC Doctor Against Bill S-10


British Columbia, Canada, Bill S-10 Proposes Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Drug Crime

A local doctor is among a long list of health professionals across the country against a proposed bill which would impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes.

“Criminalizing people who aren’t criminals isn’t a good idea,” said Dr. Andy Edelson, who signed a letter written by the Urban Health Research Initiative earlier this month.

Edelson predicts the bill will be expensive and won’t work. He believes governments should spend money on therapy, counselling and safe injection centres instead.

“The more you criminalize something, the more money you spend on it.”

The Conservative’s Bill S-10 proposes minimum mandatory penalties for serious drug crimes, such as trafficking drugs in connection with organized crime, if there are children involved, or when there is a weapon or violence involved.

It also lays out minimum penalties for producers of marijuana growing operations.

There are exceptions for anyone who has completed a treatment program approved by a province and under the supervision of a court.

The minimum sentences range from one to two years for trafficking, and two to three years for producing an illegal substance, other than marijuana. Minimum sentences for cannabis growers will depend on the number of plants grown and if there are any health and safety factors involved.

Targeting organized crime is great, said Edelson, “but [governments] have been unable to deal with it by criminalizing substances.”

“It didn’t work with alcohol prohibition in the 1930s and it’s not working with drugs today,” he continued.

Criminalizing drugs increases their value, which drives more people to take risks to provide them, said Edelson, adding, governments should take the value out of the substance instead.

“So much money goes into [criminalizing] it,” he noted. “Who are the victims? The users. We have to pay attention to the victims and organized crime will take care of itself.”

Once there is no value attached to the drugs, organized crime won’t want to be involved, said Edelson, arguing education works better than criminalization.

The Three-Pronged Approach

“There needs to be a three-pronged approach,” said Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission Conservative MP Randy Kamp, who agrees education is needed, but so are treatment and enforcement.

This bill is intended to disrupt criminal activity, not recreational drug users, said Kamp. “I think it’s necessary … We’re targeting those who produce and traffic drugs and there will be additional sentences if there is violence or children involved.”

The bill was introduced last May, following the defeat of two similar pieces of proposed legislation. It’s now at second reading debate, said Kamp, who hopes it will move forward, but is disappointed both the Liberals and the NDP have opposed it.

Learned Behavior


Alcoholism and Learned Behavior

Cognitive Behavior Therapy takes the approach that alcohol abuse or drug addiction is learned behavior. The following video can be very disturbing to some people; however, it was designed to make the point of ‘what children see, children do.’

YouTube video

Treatment for Learned Behavior

CBT is an effective treatment approach for drug and alcohol addiction. It attempts to look at previous learned behaviors and how they are affecting your life in the hear and now. Once looking at past behaviors and analyzing the harm they are doing, a skill counselor will then attempt to guide you in learning new and better coping skills.

Where you cannot “un-learn” things, you can can learn better ways of dealing with issues and triggers, now and in the future.